Nike, noticing the trend towards barefoot running, have designed shoes for it. The Nike Free series combines the best of shoe-free athletics with some of the protection and enhancement that shoes can provide. (If you didn’t already know, there’s evidence that padded shoes change our gait in a way that means heavier heel strikes while running—which could increase the chance of injury. The argument of barefoot running is that we evolved to run without shoes, so shoes that change our gait are probably doing more harm than good.)
Nike Free Gym+ is the newest addition to the women’s line. Nike describes them as a shoe, but it’s perhaps better to think of them as a high-performance slipper, with a split-toe design. The shoes are designed for the gym, for ‘dynamic yoga and other mind-body classes typically taken barefoot’. They’re very light, weighing in at under 5oz. A network of strategic grooves in the sole offer close-to-natural movement. And the treads are designed to give extra traction over a bare foot, along with some protection against whatever’s on the gym floor.